In the Southwest Region of the NCAA Tournament, #3 Purdue Boilermakers (25-7.14-4) face #14 St. Peter's Peacocks (20-13, 11-7) on March 18th at 7:20pm est in Chicago, Illinois.
Purdue BoilermakersIn their last matchup, the Purdue Boilermakers were defeated by the Michigan State Spartans in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament, 74-56. Purdue came in as the big favorite but the Spartans prevailed, enabling them to get into the NCAA Tournament. Michigan State got out to a 14 point 1st half lead and never looked back. Leading Purdue was JaJuan Johnson with 21 points and 9 rebounds. E'Twaun Moore chipped in with 17 points, 4 assists, and 3 rebounds. Now, it's onward to the big dance for the Boilermakers.

In the Saint Peter's Peacocks last game, they defeated the Iona Gaels 62-57 to win the MAAC Conference title and their first NCAA Tournament berth in 16 years. They upset the number 1 and 2 teams in the conference in surprising fashion. Leading St Peter's was forward Jeron Belin with 17 points and Nick Leon added 15. It wasn't an overwhelming performance but it was enough to get the job done.

In this matchup, Purdue is a decisive favorite. They play in a tougher conference and St. Peter's had to run the table to get to this game.

Struting Like a Peacock

Lately senior forward Jeron Belin has been playing better than expected. Belin has scored in double figures in 13 consecutive games and has averaged 14.8 points and 6 rebounds in his last 6 games. This is an increase from his seasonal average of 11.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. Belin will need to have a good game because Purdue outscores St. Peter's by 11.3 points per game.

Saving Their Bacon

Forward Ryan Bacon help's St. Peter's in a variety of ways. He leads the team in rebounds (7.5) , blocks (2.1), and is the only player to shoot over 50% on the Peacocks roster at 53.2%. Bacon also manages to contribute a solid 10 points per game on a team that averages just 61.4 points per game.

E'twaun MooreDefense Is the Only Remedy

St. Peter's team is based around defense. When the top 3 scorers on your team shoot 38.6 % from the field or less, you need to find another alternative to win. The Peacocks give up 59.9 points per game which ranks 12th in the nation, they allow just 37.4% from the field which is good enough for 3rd in the nation, and they also allow just 30.5% shooting from 3 point range. This ranks 17th in the country. Defense is the only opportunity that St. Peter's has but remember, the level of competition that they play is inferior to the level of competition that Purdue has to face.

Purdue has had wins over Wisconsin and the number 1 ranked team, Ohio State Buckeyes. Purdue would have to put up the worst performance of their season in order for the Peacocks to be struting.

Purdue Equals Two

Of course basketball is a team effort but the Boilermakers team is based around two players, JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore. JaJuan Johnson has come to play every single game. He's scored in double figures in every game this season. Not one night did he take a game off. Johnson averages 20.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks on the season. In his last 4 games, he's averaged 11 rebounds per game. Expect Johnson to have a monster game against St. Peter's. He's a bigtime player playing against a smalltime team.

Guard E'Twan Moore is a multitalented basketball player. Moore averages 18.2 points, 3.2 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. Moore can also shoot from behind the arc at 41.1%. At 6 foot 4, 191 pounds, Moore is not afraid to get physical. He also averages 5.1 rebounds per game and is consistent on a game by game basis.

Purdue allows just 41.3% field goal and 32.8% from 3 point range. St Peter's offense will have a difficult time in their long awaited return to the NCAA Tournament.

Outcome of the Game

NCAA Basketball odds boards have listed Purdue as the favorite by 14 points in this game. They're a far superior team that plays a higher level of competition. St Peter's was lucky to make it to the big dance. Defense is their only chance but they won't be able to stop Johnson and Moore. Take Purdue and lay the 14 points at the sportsbooks. This should be a blowout.

Pick -  Purdue -14